Athletics at Morningside College have expanded to the virtual world with the addition of what’s being called “E-sports.” Morningside will compete in video gaming in a collegiate E-sports league this fall. As an incentive to recruit players, the school will even offer scholarships to some gamers.
“I think that Esports is kind of the way of the future,” says Dean Stevens, Professor of Computer Science and Coach of e-Sports at Morningside.
And that future has granted students a new way to explore their gaming passions in a team setting.
“Students can receive scholarship upwards of $5,000 to play competitive video games and so you can imagine that there are a lot of students that are interested in doing that,” says Stevens.
After students decided they wanted to create an Esports team, Morningside and new Esports coach, Dean Stevens, decided to help make their idea a reality.
“We started off with just a bunch of computer parts…”
Stevens had the students build their gaming computers from scratch. After 6 hours, the students now had new equipment and a bond with their individual stations. They even went as far as to name them.
“These machines have a huge amount of RAM, they’ve got very special hard drives in them. You can see the keyboards are specialized for video games. The mice are very responsive and have additional buttons on them,” says Stevens.
Right now, the club plays two games, League of Legends and Overwatch, but they hope to participate in additional games in the club’s future.
“Being a coach of an Esports team is interesting. I will be the first to admit that my students know more about the games than I do,” says Dean Stevens, Professor of Computer Science and Coach of Esports at Morningside.
Unlike physical sports, teams do not have to travel to play one another.
“So it’s all virtual competition, so we have software that will pair us with a different school” says Stevens.
Another difference noted by Esports players is the talents needed to compete.
“I would consider Esports a lot more of a mental sport like chess or like those type of games where it’s not more about where if you can out perform the other player in the sense of if you’re faster, stronger. It’s more a sense of can you plan out or predict a strategy that will catch the enemy off-guard or that will allow to put yourself in front of the other player ,” says Derek Delzell , Junior Esports athlete.
“Decision making is huge in Esports, like a split decision or a split-move like half an inch with your mouse left or right could mean game-changing,” says Jared Amundson, Sophomore Esports athlete.
But as in every sport, players have to practice to perform their best in scrimmages and competitions.
“Two or three hours a day,” says Delzell.
For newcomer Alexis, the draw was finally having a physical team that she could rely on.
“I was kind of interested in joining a team that I could play with , that I know who it is that I could eb comfortable with and actually play decently with,” says Alexis Hall, sophomore Esports athlete.
For now, Morningside Esports is a club team but come this fall, they’ll be joining the National Association of Collegiate Esports and compete against other schools.